This February, Give Your Heart Some Love
February is American Heart Month. Take some time this month to assess how your diet, eating habits and lifestyle affect your risk of heart disease.

Heart disease is the number one killer of women in the U.S. To raise awareness and encourage more women to take a proactive approach to their heart health, the American Heart Association will hold National Wear Red Day on February 4. To learn more and to send the message to your friends and family, go to

The American Heart Association also offers an online Heart Attack Risk Assessment Tool, to measure how your lifestyle, blood pressure, cholesterol, weight and physical activity affect your risk of heart disease, stroke and metabolic syndrome.

If you believe you are at risk, contact your family physician. Your doctor can help you determine your risk and together you can devise a treatment plan to get your heart in shape. If you need to find a new primary care physician, call our Physician Referral Line at 800.274.1314 or go to

A heart-healthy diet does not have to lack the things you love to eat! Make sure the recipes you use include plenty of high-fiber foods, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains and nuts and are low in saturated fats and cholesterol. Try to eat fish at least twice a week, choose fat-free dairy products and restrict your salt intake. The Mayo Clinic offers a wide variety of tasty and heart-healthy recipes online.

Smoking drastically affects your heart health. Quit smoking, and within 20 minutes, your blood pressure and pulse rate drop back to normal. After just 24 hours, your chance of a heart attack decreases. Within three months, circulation improves and after one year, the risk of coronary heart disease is half that of a smoker.

Quitting is hard, but you don't have to go it alone Locally, Saint Joseph Regional Medical Center offers Freedom from Smoking Cessation Classes free of charge. For more information, call Jill Sabo at (574) 252-0362. Learn more about how to quit and what is happening locally regarding the county smoking ordinance at